Thursday, August 29, 2013

Personal Hall of Fame, Part 4: Post-Integration Era

This is the fourth in a series of six posts where I'm revealing my personal Hall of Fame one era at a time.

I've determined era based on when each player's star shined the brightest—although in marginal cases, I've assigned some players based on where they fit best due to the all-era teams format—but their entire careers provide the basis for selection, rather than just time spent in a specific era.

My personal Hall consists exclusively of players (no managers, executives, pioneers or umpires) based on their careers in Major League Baseball only.

For a more complete explanation of this series, and for my 19th Century inductees, please see Part 1. For my Deadball era inductees, please see Part 2. For my Live Ball era inductees, check out Part 3.

An * denotes an actual Hall of Famer.

All-Post-Integration Era Team/Personal Hall Inductees

C - Yogi Berra* (1946-1963, 1965)
1B (RF/LF) - Stan Musial(1941-1944, 1946-1963)
2B - Jackie Robinson(1947-1956)
SS (1B) - Ernie Banks* (1953-1971)
3B - Eddie Mathews* (1952-1968)
LF - Ted Williams* (1939-1942, 1946-1960)
CF - Willie Mays* (1951-1952, 1954-1973)
RF - Hank Aaron* (1954-1976)
SP - Warren Spahn* (1942, 1946-1965)
SP - Bob Gibson* (1959-1975)
SP - Gaylord Perry* (1962-1983)
SP - Fergie Jenkins* (1965-1983)
SP - Robin Roberts* (1948-1966)

C - Roy Campanella* (1948-1957)
C/1B/3B - Joe Torre (1960-1977)
C - Bill Freehan (1961, 1963-1976)
1B - Willie McCovey* (1959-1980)
1B/3B - Dick Allen (1963-1977)
1B/3B - Harmon Killebrew* (1954-1975)
2B - Bobby Doerr* (1937-1944, 1946-1951)
2B - Nellie Fox* (1947-1965)
SS - Pee Wee Reese* (1940-1942, 1946-1958)
SS - Luis Aparicio* (1956-1973)
3B - Brooks Robinson* (1955-1977)
3B - Ron Santo* (1960-1974)
3B - Ken Boyer (1955-1969)
3B - Sal Bando (1966-1981)
LF/1B - Carl Yastrzemski* (1961-1983)
LF/RF/3B/2B/1B - Pete Rose (1963-1986)
LF - Billy Williams* (1959-1976)
LF - Ralph Kiner* (1946-1955)
LF - Minnie Miñoso (1949, 1951-1964, 1976, 1980)
CF - Mickey Mantle* (1951-1968)
CF - Duke Snider* (1947-1964)
CF - Richie Ashburn* (1948-1962)
CF - Larry Doby* (1947-1959)
CF - Jim Wynn (1963-1977)
RF - Frank Robinson* (1956-1976)
RF - Roberto Clemente* (1955-1972)
RF - Al Kaline* (1953-1974)
RF - Enos Slaughter* (1938-1942, 1946-1959)
SP - Sandy Koufax* (1955-1966)
SP - Juan Marichal* (1960-1975)
SP - Jim Bunning* (1955-1971)
SP - Don Drysdale* (1956-1969)
SP - Whitey Ford* (1950, 1953-1967)
SP - Early Wynn* (1939, 1941-1944, 1946-1963)
RP - Hoyt Wilhelm* (1952-1972)

Catcher and Third Base are easily the most under-represented positions in the real Hall of Fame, with only 13 inductees each (this counts Paul Molitor at 3B and doesn't include Negro Leaguers). By comparison, there are 21 first basemen and 23 right fielders. 

Classifying each player at one specific position can be a little misleading, since there are quite a few who don't fit so nicely into these categories. For instance, Ernie Banks is considered a first baseman by the Hall, but it was clearly his time as a shortstop that earned him the honor. Also, I don't feel as though each position needs to be evenly represented, but my Hall has a little more balance and it's definitely not by accident.

For this era, my Hall adds two deserving catchersJoe Torre who, coincidentally also spent significant time at third; and Bill Freehanplus two more third basemenKen Boyer and Sal Bandoin addition to Dick Allen, who easily could be classified as either a first or a third baseman, and outfielders Minnie Miñoso and Jim Wynn. 

While Torre played less than half his career games behind the plate, he provided exceptional offense (129 OPS+) for the position—and quite good for any other—over a career that spanned 8802 plate appearances. Only a few players with Hall Ratings higher than Torre's 112 are not in my personal Hall, and none of them were catchers. 

Freehan was probably the best defensive catcher of this era—well, perhaps Johnny Bench was, but we'll see him later, of courseand he was no slouch at the plate either (112 OPS+). I don't love using all-star selections as an argument, mainly because it's a mid-year award but also because subjective honors can be hit-or-miss. But, I don't completely ignore subjectivity and Freehan's 10 consecutive all-star appearances (and 11 of 12) are backed up by objective measures, so he's in.

Boyer and Bando are nearly identical in overall value (118 Hall Rating), but arrive at it in different ways. Boyer was a great glove man (5 Gold Gloves, 73 fielding runs) whose 116 OPS+ gets a bigger boost from batting average and power than patience at the plate. 

Bando was a good glove man, but wasn't going to win any Gold Gloves playing in an American League that included Brooks Robinson, Graig Nettles and Buddy Bell. However, he was an under-rated offensive performer in a pitchers' era, to the tune of a 119 OPS+ that tells us more than his triple slash of .254/.352/.408. 

Without perspective, the arguments for Bando and Boyer aren't overwhelmingly convincing, but perhaps this list of the 118 greatest position players of all-time (min. 5000 PA) in terms of WAR as a percentage of plate appearances will do a better job. Boyer is at #71 and Bando #78, but more importantly, they're surrounded by some pretty serious Hall of Fame caliber company. Neither of them are at the short-career end of the spectrum either. 

There are a few possible theories as to why Dick Allen isn't in the Hall of Fame. He peaked early and flamed out at a fairly young age, so his career is a little on the short side. That peak occurred in a pitchers' era, so his counting numbers take an additional hit, and some voters have never been able to reconcile era adjustments in their narrow minds. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, he was very unpopular

I don't care about the latter, and I'm luckier than the voters of 15-30 years ago in that advanced metrics help considerably with era adjustments. Finally, and definitely most importantly, his OPS+ of 156 ranks 19th all-time, and here he is surrounded by Hall of Fame caliber playersChet Lemon notwithstanding, although he's closer than you thinkon this list of guys with 7000 to 8000 career plate appearances and 50 or more WAR.

For my all-time White Sox post, I wrote that I considered Minnie Miñoso a borderline candidate for the Hall. I've since decided he's on the yes side of that line, mainly because of his excellent peak (50 WAR from 1951-1960) and the fact that, although his post-peak years didn't add much to his case, segregation deprived him of the chance to make up for it in his pre-peak years.

The additions of Miñoso and Wynn make this the first era with six players at a particular position. In fact, I bumped Bobby Doerr from the Live Ball era to avoid a similar situation. Both of them are late additions, but I feel comfortable that the eras which come after the game was integrated are more highly represented. With 47 inductees for an era that spans 26 years (1.8 per year), that tops the previous two eras, which were both in the 1.55-1.6 range. 

Actually, I had Wynn in, then I was going to leave him out and then I was talked back into it. He had so many factors working against him during his career that it's no wonder he's one of the most under-rated players of all-time. He played in a pitcher's era and played his home games (and quite a few of his away games, since he almost exclusively played for NL West teams) in the Astrodome and Chavez Ravine, two of the most well-known pitcher-friendly ballparks. He also walked a lot, a skill that most under-appreciated hitters have in common.

Also, my justification is Wynn's straddling eras more than the other guys, with only Mays and Mantle still relevant as of the start of his career. Quite arguably, he was the best center fielder in the game during the period where this era overlaps with the next. 

Last, but certainly not least, among non-Hall of Famers I'm inducting is Pete Rose. As with Joe Jackson, there's really not much justification necessary except to reiterate I'm ignoring eligibility restrictions. Plus, as punishments go, it's pretty safe to say Rose has paid his due. 

The list of Hall of Famers from this era who didn't make my cut (listed in descending order by Hall Rating) is much shorter than the previous era: Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Phil Rizzuto, Bob Lemon, Lou Brock, George Kell, Red Schoendienst, Catfish Hunter, and Bill Mazeroski

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